Tag Archives: heart attack

It’s Been A Year…I’m Still Alive!

1st Stent-iversary!

Today is a very big day for me, even though it will pass by with little to no fanfare. Today marks one year since two stents were placed in my heart!

A year ago, yesterday, my wife and I had driven down here to Warthen for a face-to-face interview with the search committee at Bethlehem Baptist. Just a few hours later I was in the local hospital with odd chest pains.

A short while after that I was being transported by ambulance to Macon, Georgia where I was admitted and prepped for heart surgery.

You can read how it all unfolded – the rest of the story – by clicking here. 

One year ago I almost died from a heart attack. Now, a year later, I could end up dying from a virus!

You Never Know

I’m glad to be alive (even though Heaven would be great). I’m thankful to God for sparing my life and answering the question, “What’s a person supposed to do if they have a heart attack in this town?”

But, seriously, none of us know what tomorrow holds, do we? One day everything could be perfectly fine, normal, no problems, and then the next day your world could be turned upside down.

What started out as a Chinese thing has now infected most of the world. Literally, just one hour ago (as of this writing), I was told by a Sheriff’s Deputy that our rural county had its first confirmed case of Coronavirus and that the Mayor had declared a state of emergency. Then, not even 15 minutes after that, my wife informed me that her cousin’s wife, Amber, tested positive for the virus.

Again, one never knows from one moment to the next what tomorrow holds. It could be a heart attack, a virus, an accident, or even cancer – you just don’t know.

But God knows.

That is why He says “now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

An Invitation

The Lord is calling YOU. Are you going to answer?

We are living in a very dangerous time, and it’s only getting worse. Add to that the already uncertainty of life, what confidence do you have that you’ll be around a year from now? Even a month from now? It’s impossible to know!

Therefore, if you are in the least bit unsure of where you would spend eternity, PLEASE take a moment and read this simple explanation of the gospel and how to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. And if you do, please let me know!

My heart attack was a wake-up call. This virus, I believe, is God’s wake-up call to the world.

While YOU are still alive, take advantage of the opportunity to live forever.

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You Could Be the “Shift Change”

Command Staff Meetings

Some of you know that I am a chaplain with our county’s Sheriff’s office. It is a great honor to be allowed to serve our men and women in blue, for they are the ones who put their lives on the line every day for us.

Myself and Chaplains Rich Payne, Allen Lindon, and Sergio Freeman (who is also a Chaplain with the Air Force and the US Secret Service)

But about twice a year the rotation comes around and it becomes my time to speak at the Command Staff meeting. This is the meeting where the Sheriff and his captains, along with public relation heads and personal staff, meet to discuss everything from the general budget and how much should be allocated to new body armor, to the number of hits the office’s Facebook page received and when the next Presidential visit may be.

Needless to say, these meetings involve some very important, professional, and intimidating people…including a chaplain. And let me tell you, it’s one place I ALWAYS feel intimidated. But it’s always an honor.

Go to some places and you will have a hard time finding anything having to do with God in the public square. But if you were to visit Hamilton County, TN, you would find a highly professional Sheriff’s office, along with “In God We Trust” on ever county police vehicle and a time for a chaplain to open up the Command Staff meetings with a short devotional and prayer… per the Sheriff’s orders.

No Meeting Today

However, yesterday I got an email notification that this week’s Command Staff meeting was cancelled. Therefore, even though I had set aside time in my schedule, the encouraging words I was planning to share with the Sheriff and his team will have to wait till another time…

Unless I share them with YOU! 🙂

The Shift Change

A little over a month ago I suffered a heart attack. Actually, one may label it more of an “event,” not an actual full-fledged “there’s an elephant on my chest!” type of attack. Had I not gone to a hospital when I did, I might have lived through the night, but I was well on my way to assuming room temperature. I had block arteries and my heart was in distress; it was only a matter of time.

That type of heart attack is so dangerous because it doesn’t show up on an EKG. The only way you can tell you are having that type of heart attack is when blood is drawn, then drawn again, and then the Troponin levels are compared. Troponin is a cardiac marker that increases when the heart is being damaged.

On the evening that my wife and I went to the emergency room, all the usual tests were done and came back negative for a heart attack. As a matter of fact, I was dressed and ready to go home because the first doctor didn’t see any reason to keep me. However, before I was to be released, there was a shift change and the new doctor had other plans.

“Before you go,” said the doctor, “I want to run one more blood test, just to see if there have been any changes over the last couple of hours.” “That’s fine,” I replied, not expecting anything at this point.

No more than 30 minutes later the doctor came back to our little room and said, “Well, there’s been some changes…you need to see a cardiologist…. Now.”

You see, what had happened was that from the time of my last blood test my Troponin levels had doubled, indicating a serious problem. By the time I got to the hospital in Macon, GA, by ambulance, my levels had double again. By the time I was taken to surgery later that morning, they had more than doubled again.

If it had not been for a shift change, I would be dead.

You Could Be the Shift Change

Folks, you never know how God is going to use you from one minute to the next. What may start out as any other shift, that shift could be the one that make an eternal difference in the life of another.

Had that doctor stayed home or been late, I would be dead. Had that doctor decided to just let things be and not follow protocol with a new test for his own records, I would be dead. But when he came to work, he did his job, so I’m alive.

Whatever you do, do all for the glory of God. Do the best you can. Be there, be committed, and understand that you might just be the one who’s fresh perspective and energy, who’s unique abilities and instincts, could make all the difference.

Even the difference between life and death. 

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Filed under Life Lessons, ministry

A Heart Update (May 5, 2019)

I just wanted to share an update about my heart and other medical issues. 

As most of you who read this blog know, I had a heart attack a little over a month ago. That resulted in me receiving 2 stents and having to take a lot of medication – ugh!

Yesterday, I finished my first round of cardiac therapy – it wasn’t that bad, just a little trip to a nice gym where nice nurses and technicians treated me like an invalid and made me wear a heart monitor while I worked up a sweat.

I am scheduled to do therapy for two days a week, then up it to three. I may even get into shape when it’s all over!

Today I went to my cardiologist, endured a painful echo cardiogram, and, to be brief, got a good report. My heart is functioning just wonderful and there is no damage as a result of my heart incident. Hallelujah!

Now, as Paul Harvey would say, here’s the REST of the story…

I have a mass in my chest, just above my heart, close to the aorta. I will be having a PET scan sometime soon to find out if it is malignant. Regardless, because of the size and where it is, I am told it must be removed. If it is cancerous, it must be addressed sooner than later.

The only problem is that having any kind of surgery any time sooner than at least six months after a heart attack (and being on blood thinners) is a risky procedure and ill-advised. If I do have to have surgery soon, then it will require me having to be admitted to the hospital at least 5 days prior in order to be put on a drip to take me off of the Brilinta.

Nothing is easy anymore, is it?

But here’s the good news – yes, there is good news. The constant pain in my chest may be related to the mass in my chest, not my heart. Well, fact is, it’s NOT my heart! So, whatever the other thing is, once it’s removed, I will not keep having these pains that make me think my heart is hurting. That’s awesome!

Funny thing, though… the pain of the mass in my chest may have actually saved my life by getting me into the hospital to find out I was having a heart attack that I DIDN’T feel. On top of that, the heart attack may have opened the door to the early discovery of what could be cancer (hope not).

While I was in the waiting area waiting for the echo cardiogram to be done, I met an 85-year-old man named Hyman. To make a long story short, with the sweetest and calmest of temperament, he began to talk to me about life, his lack of worry, his marriage to his bride Rachael, and his life-changing faith in Jesus Christ. We had a wonderful discussion, which leads me to my final thought.

As I told the elderly saint in the waiting room, my wish is that people not necessarily pray for my healing, but for me to be a faithful witness of the love and grace of Jesus Christ while God allows me to endure whatever He has planned for me. Sure, I want to be healed, but I’d much prefer to be able to point people to Jesus.

As I told Hyman, sometimes, when the people in the hospital won’t go to church or seek after God, God sends the church to the hospital to be a witness for Him. When the hospital won’t go to church, He sends the Church to the hospital.

I appreciate your continued prayers… and pray for Rachael, Hyman’s wife. He really loves her. 

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Church, Faith, Life Lessons, ministry, Struggles and Trials

It’s a Reality Show In the Making

Folks, I’m just going to shoot straight with you this Saturday morning. I only have a short amount of time to write this, so I’m just going to type it, post it, and not worry about the aesthetics.

Like the title of this post says, our life is like a dad gum reality show in the making. I don’t know who would sponsor it, and I don’t know who would watch it, but there’s more that happens to us in any given week than ever takes place on a TV reality show. The DRAMA! The TRAGEDY! The COMEDY!

The only problem is that what happens in our family, should it be made into a reality TV program, would be considered made-up, fake, or overblown just to get ratings. In other words, no one would believe it.

You may be reading this with a little smirk, thinking to yourself, “Yeah, right. It couldn’t be THAT bad, Anthony. Everybody’s got their issues.” Maybe, but consider what has happened in just the last couple of weeks.

  • After 14 months out of work (except for the occasional insurance commission), I finally got through all the red tape of getting my CDL (Commercial Drivers License) back in order to drive a school bus – that story is a book to itself. THEN, I only worked 2 days before Spring Break came – without pay.
  • Friday, the last day of Spring Break, I had a heart attack which required 4 days in the hospital and 2 stents. Now I can’t drive a school bus until I’m cleared by a cardiologist.
  • Our insurance through the Marketplace changed, so NONE of our doctors were covered – we had to find new ones. The only problem is that hardly any doctors or hospitals in our area take the new insurance! SOOOO, I’m having to wait 2 weeks to see a cardiologist.
  • The day before yesterday, in the morning, on the first day I was at home from the hospital, my mother (who stays with us) wouldn’t wake up. We had to call an ambulance. I had to take a nitro pill. She went to the hospital and didn’t wake up until 8 p.m.! We still don’t know why!
  • While at the hospital, I got a little too winded, so my wife said she would push me in a wheelchair. On the way to the van she flipped her knee scooter – the one she was riding because she had a broken bone in her foot and a fractured tibia from dropping my mother’s wheelchair arm on her foot – and fell in the hospital parking lot, doing more damage to her leg…now she’s in a full-blown cast.
  • Oh, she also broke her toe in the hospital where I was being treated. She closed the reclining chair she was sleeping on and it closed on her toe.
  • When my wife and I got the wheel chair out of the van, she pushed me (imagine how that looked) into the hospital where my mom was (they moved her from the ER to a room). As she was pushing me in, she looked down as we were going through the automatic doors. They opened outward, not inward, so she ran me right into them!

We’ve had little income, more bills than money to pay them, multiple injuries and illnesses, sermons to preach, people to visit, jobs that have been lost, arguments that have escalated, death that nearly happened, and people wondering what in the world we did to deserve all that’s been happening to us for the last 25 years.

YET… God is good, all the time.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. [We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair; – 2 Corinthians 4:7-8 KJV

People look at us with wonder and ask, “How do you do it?” All I can say is that “He giveth grace.”

I don’t know why we have so much happen to us. I don’t know why it’s been so hard the last year and a half, especially. It could be that Satan is trying to attack us and defeat us. It could be that the Lord is testing us.

Either way, I will not yield ground to the Enemy by giving up. I will not surrender my faith by doubting God’s goodness, mercy, and grace. I will not give up. I’ll keep getting up. I’ll keep pressing on.

I’m still not sure what I’m going to be preaching on tomorrow morning, but I can promise you one thing: The devil won’t like it.

God bless you all, and have a great weekend!

Go to church somewhere this Sunday.

Tell the networks we are ready to talk.

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Filed under blogging, Christian Living, Faith, General Observations, grace, Life Lessons, Life/Death, Love of God, ministry, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials

When There’s Been a Heart Change

Above is the view from my hospital bed at Coliseum Medical Center in Macon, Georgia. It’s not a view that compares with those my friend David Welford posts on instagram, but at least it’s a view – there were no windows in the ICU.

However, this morning my wife and I will be driving the 4-or-so hours back to Chattanooga, enjoying the view through the windshield. FREEDOM!

A  New Era

Last Friday I entered a new era in my life, one that will require lots more medication, a radical change in diet, and a physical therapy program that will probably turn into a regular workout program. I went from living life a certain way to living it a totally different way. I went from life as usual to life unexpected.

That’s what happens when you have a changed heart.

How It Happened

My heart began to change the moment I realized I was in trouble and admitted my need for help.  Had my pride said, “I can handle this…I’ll be OK,” I would have been dead.  But the painful feeling in my chest convinced me nothing I could do was going to change my condition – I needed a doctor.

The next step in my change of heart came when I submitted to the recommendations of those with whom I consulted. There was the doctor in the first hospital in Washington County who told me: “We got the results of your blood test…there’s something going on…you need to see a cardiologist tonight.” Then, several hours later, after a long ambulance ride and a lot more tests in another hospital (Coliseum), there was the cardiologist who said, “You need surgery.”

If I had rejected the recommendations of either, I would not be writing this; someone else would be writing my obituary.

The final step came when I submitted to the wisdom and ability of Dr. Nisreen Jallad and allowed her to fix what was wrong by weaving a wire up through my wrist and arm, all the way to the blocked arteries in my heart. Had I just agreed to what was needed, nothing would have changed. It was only when I put my life in her hands and allowed her to perform the scary, painful, life-saving angiogram and arterial surgery that change actually occurred.

Reassurance

Over the next couple of days, as I lay in the intensive care unit (ICU), there were times when I felt pain in my chest. Was I having another attack? More surgery?

That’s when Dr. Jallad calmly reassured me, “You came in with problems, but you are fixed…don’t worry.” All I was feeling were a combination of soreness and anxiety, not a heart attack; my heart was working fine.

What’s the next step? Live like my heart has been changed.

Evidence of Change

With a changed heart I will no longer consume the same foods; I will be on a healthier diet, one which will demand I think before I eat.

With a changed heart I will require an ongoing relationship with a cardiologist, someone who knows how the heart works and how to keep it working.

With a changed heart I will have to maintain a very specific regimen of medications for the rest of my life, else the devices in my heart will cease to perform as designed. The change was permanent, but its usefulness could be thwarted by my complacency and lack of discipline.

Spiritual Change

Can you see any comparisons to the spiritual heart? Some people claim to have had a change, but where’s the evidence?

Was there ever a moment of crisis? A moment of need? A time when you realized something was seriously wrong and there was nothing you could do to fix yourself?

Has there been a change of diet and discipline? Has the change been taken seriously?

Was there ever a surrendering to the Savior’s surgical hand, or did you simply continue as you were with only His words to contemplate?

Is there an ongoing communication with the Great Physician, the Cardiologist of the soul? Or, was that one trip to His office enough for you?

Then did a heart change really take place?

All I know is that everything changed for me the day my heart was changed.

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Filed under Christianity, fitness, Life Lessons, Life/Death, salvation

I’m Not Dead…Yet

I was behind the wheel of our Toyota Sienna when my wife looked over at me and asked, “Are you OK?”

We were in a little town called Sandersville, GA,  and we had just finished walking through a small grocery store just to see what it was like.  But when I got in the van and sat behind the steering well, my chest was burning. I was a little short of breath and I was staring straight ahead. My wife had good reason to ask if I was OK because I wasn’t:

I was having a mild heart attack.

Over four hours away from home, not counting Atlanta traffic, the last thing I wanted to do was go to the emergency room in a little town where the hospital wasn’t much bigger than a Walmart.  But knowing that chest pain isn’t something to trifle with, and especially since my wife looked worried (Who’s kidding who? I was worried, too!),  I agreed to go get checked out.

The little hospital was the best it could be, I suppose, for a little town like Sandersville. They couldn’t do much for me other than do an EKG, a chest X-ray, and a blood test.  All of the tests that they did came back negative, as in nothing was wrong. So, we got ready to leave as we awaited the results of a second blood test that needed to be done, one which was supposedly only a formality.  The only problem is that the final blood test showed that my troponin levels doubled in the three hours that I had been there…evidence something was wrong.

The emergency room doctor came back with the results and said that I needed to go see a cardiologist. My wife asked, “Just schedule an appointment with one when we get back home?” “No,” replied the doctor, “he needs to be transported by ambulance to another hospital right now.”  Unfortunately, the nearest ambulance to the hospital was still two hours away! So, the waiting began.

When the ambulance finally got there, we decided to go to the nearest hospital that was in the direction of home. So, we decided on a hospital in Macon, GA.  An hour later I arrived at Coliseum Medical Centers. #coliseumhealthsystem.com

All I can say is that I praise God this happened down here when it did because this place is so much better than Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. Everyone down here, from housekeeping to the nurses to the cardiologist, has been absolutely wonderful!  They have treated me like I was their only patient.  If I had been at Erlanger, it would’ve taken me four hours to get a bedpan.  But I digress.

Anyway, long story short, more tests were run on me here which led to the discovery that I had blockages in all four main arteries in my heart, two of which were blocked 90%.  A few hours later I was in surgery receiving 2 to 3 stents, depending on how you measure them (one was as long as two). Other than when they numbed my wrist, I felt everything. No kidding, it hurt.

But I’m alive.

Come to find out, I’ve had heart problems for a while. When I have had pain in the past, all that was done were EKGs and stress tests. But nothing ever showed that I had blockages of any kind.  None of the places in Chattanooga ever did a heart catheterization.

My dad died at 46 with a heart attack. My grandfather died at 53.  I’m 51. Am I blessed, or what?

But here’s the thing: I’m going to die one day, and so are you.  Unless the rapture takes place, every one of us have an appointment with death. It doesn’t matter how many times we go to the hospital and get fixed, these old bodies will eventually break down the last time  and we will enter into eternity.

My only hope for you, dear reader, is that you have the same hope and peace that I have.  That hope and peace are found in my Savior, Jesus Christ. Because of Him, when I take my last breath, I know where I will spend eternity.

I’m not dead…yet. But because of the blood Jesus Christ shed for my sins, I’ll be more alive that day than I am right now.

I’m ready to go. Are you?

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Stupid Chest Pain! (Remembered)

The following post was written on 9/29/2013 – NOT today! But I’m thankful to the Lord for what He has brought me through over the last 4 years.


Not Again!

Earlier in the year (maybe late last year) I had been having chest pain. At one point I was literally afraid I was having a heart attack. Yet, after extensive humiliation, all tests came back negative (which is actually a positive).

Well, here we go again. More chest pain – in the same place – and more tests. Friday night I went to the ER just to be safe (and to make certain people be quiet). That’s when I got the same questions, the same initial tests, and the same evil looks from self-righteous, healthy, gym-membership-owning nurses who know I need to lose weight.

However, this time was a little different from times in the past.

What Am I?

When my wife and I first got to the hospital, I walked up to the desk and was greeted by a not-so-sweet lady with a clip board. “What’s the reason for your visit?” she asked. “Um, well, it’s a chest pain thing,” I answered. Then, without looking up she hands me a clip board and says, “Fill this out and sign at the bottom, then take a seat.”

In a moment or two I am triaged and taken to have chest x-rays. When I got to the room for the x-ray the technician asked to see my arm band (for identification). They had not given me one.

Later, while lying in bed and hooked up to monitoring devices, a hospital rep came in to ask me a lot of personal questions. They needed to know about any medications, whether or not I had insurance, and about previous illnesses or surgeries. Among the questions were the following:

  • “Mr. Baker, are you now, or have you ever been pregnant?” she asked. “I know I may look it, but no,” was my reply.
  • “Are you on any type of birth control medication?” That’s when I looked at her with the same look that Gary Coleman used to have when he said, What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?

Now folks, I have had little kids come up to me, touch my belly, and ask, “Are you having a baby?” But honestly, either my wife has been secretly poisoning me with estrogen, or this woman must have thought I was one ugly woman in a lesbian relationship. Why would she ask such questions? You’d think my facial hair, low voice, and Adam’s apple would be a dead giveaway!

Signing Out

Fortunately, the ER doctor decided not to admit me. He said they wouldn’t be able to do an arteriogram over the weekend, so I might as well go home and take nitrates until next week when I talk to a cardiologist. Who knows? I might be in bad shape, but we will have to wait.

So, after talking with the doctor, he said: “I’ll have them bring in your paperwork, then you’ll be free to go home.”

Guess what was written on the prescription?

Name: Anthony Baker   Sex: Female

Should I change my name to Antonia? !!


UPDATE: It is now 9/29/2017 and my name’s still Anthony :-)… and my chest is fine.

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